Linux Epic Fail

When the phenomenon of the netbook first hit there is little doubt it was disruptive, it really shook the market place up. The majority of netbooks too advantage of a Linux based OS to keep the price as low as possible.

This was an amazing opportunity to really drastically change peoples OS habits, if they could be shown that Linux is actually just as useful as the OS they (at least technically) have to pay for, it could well influence their future OS decisions for their desktops and laptops. It also meant that manufacturers were forced to write linux drivers for their hardware, which can only be a good thing.

However, Microsoft were unlikely to take this lying down. I had hoped that if Linux could get enough momentum during those first months, then it would be unstoppable, but it seems that we have lost that battle. Februarys figures show that 96% of netbooks now ship with Windows on them.

This is a truly Epic Fai. I think we all need to take a good hard look at how and why such an opportunity was squandered, then in the unlikely event that we ever have another opportunity like this, then maybe, just maybe, the results could be different

I’d be interested in your thoughts on this, please leave me some feedback


3 Replies to “Linux Epic Fail”

  1. I think there were many failings, but just a few to chuck in:

    ASUS eeePC701, The original netbook came with a simple and fast booting linux yet the most popular hack for that device was to install Windows XP using the smallest footprint posible.

    When the ASUS eeePC901 came out the Windows and Linux machines were the same price, when I bought mine only the XP version was available. I bought it and stuck OpenSUSE on it as I couldn’t download the ASUS eeePC linux and Netbook distros were in there infantcy. (I’m all for helping the OpenSource community and often have in the past but I needed a reliable machine for an event).

    Since the 901 most netbooks have come in Windows and Linux flavours. Most of the time it’s easier to get the Windows version. It’s a brand and interface many are already familiar with and given the choice they won’t change. (MS advertising is a well funded and powerful tool, Open Source advertising is virtually nil).

    Opensource mainly relies on word of mouth and being presented somewhere near the top of search engine queries. If you know little about computing and go to someone who you think knows more about computing then you do. Ask them if you should buy a Netbook with Linux or Windows on they will most likely say Windows. (I wouldn’t for the record).

    Also the interfaces between netbooks differ. One of the great things about Linux for most of us is choice but that actually puts those with little knowledge off.

    I think one solution would be a hard selling advertising campaign by one of the larger Linux distros offering a Netbook version of their distro. Push the benefits and compare against Windows XP on similar machines. Then ensure manafactures offer that distro as an option on their netbooks. Ensure that this distro works with as many hardware devices as possible out of the box. (Printers, Scanners, etc etc). Make it auto updating. (Why on Ubuntu when you type in the name of a program that isn’t installed it tells you to run apt-get install program but doesn’t give you a yes or no option to install the program instead?)

    Just some things above to address 🙂

  2. Another point if I may

    When you buy a Windows PC you usually get bundled software that the manufacture insists is worth x amount. We know in reality that this is…..well b*ll***s as you probably wouldn’t have bought the software and may never use it.

    Most software offerings on Linux are free so how to you use a similar marketing tactic? Easy, list some of the softwares on the device and state how much you save by not buying the non Open Source alternative.

    OpenOffice – Save X amount over buying MS Office
    Gimp – Save X amount over buying Photoshop
    AV Product/No AV product needed – Save X amount per year over buying Mcafee

    Etc etc

  3. I was reading a Linux magazine last night. Apparently someone over head a conversation at PC world between potential customers and a member of sales staff. The sales staff stated that they should have Windows over Linux as Linux wouldn’t run there current software.

    Now maybe this person started to listen into the conversation half way through and the potential customers specified it must run Office 2007 or something but PC World always try to get you to buy some security software they happen to have on offer when buying a PC. (I.E. Some AV product).

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